Kafue National Park in Western Zambia is one of Africa’s best kept secrets and therefore an often overlooked destination when planning a safari holiday. Our aim here is to explain what a hidden gem it really is and why it should be included in your next trip to Zambia.
1. Unexplored & Exclusive
Kafue is the oldest and largest of Zambia’s national parks, huge at 22,000 sq.km, it’s the size of Wales and one of Africa’s biggest wild places. The vast and diverse habitat spaces make for rewarding game viewing and you’ll feel like this is your own private safari. Go now whilst it is still a hidden gem!
Busanga Plains Aerial – Courtesy of Dana Allen
2. Stunning Landscapes
The Kafue’s major features include the pristine Busanga Plains, the Kafue River and Lake Itzhi Tezhi. The river travels 250 kms through the park fluctuating between fast flowing rapids and slower wide sections. Sandy banks attract hippos, crocodiles and colourful bee eaters, whilst the abundant fish life lures African Fish Eagles and Pied Kingfishers.
Kafue River Crocodile
Dammed on the south-eastern park boundary by Zambia’s second largest dam, the Kafue river has created Lake Itzhi Tezhi, itself a magnet for the park’s wildlife including buffalo and puku. Kafue also features stunning open plains, shallow wetlands (dambos), teak forests and miombo woodland that support a huge diversity of wildlife.
3. Diverse Wildlife
Kafue is home to an incredibly diverse array of animals reflecting the fact it is one of the most important eco systems in Africa. More antelope species have been recorded in Kafue than in any other park anywhere! It is home to an impressive 160 mammal species that includes 20 different species of antelope. Look out for water loving red lechwe, puku and the shy sitatunga, as well as sable, roan, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, blue wildebeest and oribi.
Puku in Kafue
All the main carnivores live in Kafue, with one of Africa’s best leopard populations in the forested areas, in addition to Zambia’s only cheetah population now being sighted throughout the park. Birding enthusiasts will be thrilled to hear that there are more than 490 bird species present, including specials such as Pel’s Fishing Owl and African Fin-foot.
Cheetah on a game drive at Shumba – Courtesy of Dana Allen
4. Epic Safari Experiences
Kafue has some incredible camps where the emphasis is on guided bush walks in unexplored wilderness, as well as motorboat and canoe safaris, 4×4 day and night game drives, visits to nearby villages and fishing for bream, pike and barbel. A top bucket list activity is a balloon safari over the 28000 hectare Busanga Plains concession – this is one of Africa’s most exclusive hot air ballooning destinations.
Busanga Ballooning – Courtesy of Dana Allen
5. Cool Camps
The camps in Kafue are owner run by knowledgeable bush folk and is undoubtedly the place to head for if you like your bush camps authentic. Some camps remain open year round, but due to wet season flooding many are seasonal and open from April/May to November.
The famous Busanga Plains attracts huge numbers of game on its extensive floodplain and makes for excellent dry season game viewing. Camps options in the excellent Busanga Plains includes Busanga Bush Camp as well as the superbly rustic Musekese Camp with traditional wood warmed bucket showers.
6. Kafue Hosts
The camps in Kafue are in many cases owner run by knowledgeable and experienced guides who are passionate about Kafue and conserving the wildlife within it. This translates into them being the perfect hosts especially appealing to seasoned safari travellers who seek a no frills, authentic bush experience. Walking with a knowledgeable guide is usually high up on the wish list. We highly recommend Musekese Camp that will allow you to feel more engaged in the action and scenery becoming “no longer just an observer, you are a part of it all”.
Don’t forget: these camps are unfenced and set deep in the bush where your human hosts will be ably assisted by the local wildlife!
Lion in Kafue
7. Improving Access
The Kafue is close to Lusaka and Livingstone and most camps can be reached within four hours via a good road network or via scheduled light aircraft. The exciting news is that in 2018 Proflight are introducing scheduled flights into Kafue! Meanwhile road routes within the park are opening up providing abundant exploration opportunities for 4×4 self drives. The end result is that Kafue is now just a short leap from Lusaka or Victoria Falls!
Kafue Lion Leap – Courtesy of Dana Allen
Now that we’ve inspired you to travel to Kafue, take a look at one of our Top Journeys that combines the two exhilarating safari experiences of Kafue and South Luangwa National Parks with a 5 star wind down on Likoma Island on Lake Malawi. Read More
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